Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Essentially, it is a phone scam involving an attempt to scam the victim into giving up private information to be used for identity theft. It usually involves the scammer pretending to be a legitimate business, such as a bank, and convincing the victim they need to provide their information.
Take this fictional case as an example…
Someone calls you and says they are an employee of your banking institution. They tell you there is some suspicious activity on your account that needs to be checked.
In order to confirm your account, they tell you they need your debit card number, expiration date, and PIN number. Once they have your information, they tell you they can confirm your account and remove the fraudulent charges.
Of course, the caller isn’t legitimate. Instead, they’re just a scammer stealing your card information. Once they have your card and account information, they have full access to your money.
Could this happen to me?
Of course they can. Fraudsters do extensive research and are always getting better at what they do.
Fraudsters use the following tactics to appear legitimate in order to scam even the savviest victims:
- They’re professional. With a clear strong voice, scammers can be quite convincing. Also, hearing that your money may be at risk lets your natural guards down.
- They research their victims. Before they call you, they know your full name, address, and account number. This adds additionally legitimacy. After all, how could someone who doesn’t work at the bank know all these things?
- They use industry-specific language. If they call you from a bank, they say all the right words and phrases to make it sound like they’re calling from a bank.
- They use customer service skills to their advantage to appear empathetic. Seeming genuinely concerned about your money makes you think that the fraudster is on your side.
How Can I Turn the Tables on the Fraudsters?
Be cautious and ready to fight back. If you receive a call and it seems suspicious, ask plenty of questions to make sure the person is actually calling from the bank.
Here are a few tips that will help you verify their legitimacy:
- Ask them to tell you the transactions that are suspicious. This includes the amounts, when they were made, and where they were made. A legitimate banker would be able to tell you all of these details if there were in fact suspicious activities on your account. If they can’t provide these details, they are likely a fraudster trying to perform a vishing scheme.
- Another option is to simply end the phone call and call your bank's customer service number. If you call the bank and they don’t see suspicious activity, you’ll know it was a scammer who called you.
- Do not verify any account numbers, credit card numbers, or any other personal information unless you are 100% sure it is not a vishing scheme.
- If you can access your account online, do it immediately. If you don’t see anything suspicious on your account, it’s probably a scammer on the line.
How Scammers and Real Banks Differ
Keep in mind that real banks would not ask for your card details to confirm your account. Additionally, if your account is compromised, most banks will simply reverse the charges, close your card, and issue you a new card.
That is to say, the banks handle your money issues; they don’t expect you to. So, if you hear someone on the line demanding information from you to fix the issues, it’s a vishing scheme and it’s time to hang up the phone. Or, keep them on the line and waste their time.
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